Bill and Jane  Soberanes 2003


Bill Soberanes


How do you begin a story about someone you love that has passed away?  Where do you start?  For several days I have tried to capture the memories of my life experiences with Bill and Jane Soberanes.  Make no mistake that it is the story of Bill and Jane.  I have never known two people more in love than Bill and Jane.  A day never passed when Bill didn’t tell Jane how beautiful she is and how much he loved her.  They totally idolized each other.  Jane was his secretary, cook, housekeeper, chauffer, (Bill never learned to drive) manager, executive director and partner. 


The first time I remember seeing Bill Soberanes was at the Petaluma Wristwrestling Championship in about 1955 in Mike Gilardi’s Bar.  My father-in-law played the horses and it was said that you could place a bet at Gilardi’s bar.  He also said there was a great sporting event there in which I should participate.  I went down to take a look and found out that there was no division for left handed men and only one weight division.  At that point of time I settled for the position of spectator and was hooked for life.  In 1961 I moved the 16 short miles to Petaluma from Santa Rosa.  My insurance office was next door to the Argus-Courier (Petaluma newspaper) and one of the first people I met was Bill. 


There is a lot to this life story regarding the unusual and wonderful accomplishments of Bill. Following is a link to the Argus story so you can fully relate to the total dimensions of his many remarkable and successful achievements.

Bill was truly the most remarkable and unique man I have ever met.  He had an incredible fast mind and the ability to make snap decisions, which turned out to be correct. Bill marched to a different drummer than anyone I have ever known. If you sat down to a meal with Bill he would be finished about the time you took your third or fourth bite.  Walk down the street with Bill and you would have trouble keeping up with him.  Many times I would end up interpreting for him, as some people couldn’t understand his rapid speech.  He body and mind were in a hurry (marching to that different drummer) and he had trouble understanding why people couldn’t keep up with him.  


Over the years we traveled from Moscow, Russia to New Zealand and hundreds of different cities.  I could and should write a book on the many exploits of Bill but will limit the story telling to one of my favorites.  We were in Chicago at a beer distributors convention looking for armwrestling sponsors with a well-known advertising agency.  They took us to dinner and then a show.  Stan Kenton was playing in a large local club and we decided that would be an exciting end to an interesting day.  Sitting at a table in the club Bill mentioned that he knew Stan Kenton.  Our advertising agency executive said “no you don’t” and I said he did and said, “Go show him Bill”.  Bill walked up on the stage and put his arm around Stan Kenton and they started talking while Kenton was still leading the band.  After a few minutes of talking Kenton asked Bill if he would like to lead the band and handed Bill the baton and walked off to the side of the stage.  Bill finished the song leading the band waving his “magic wand baton” to the delight of the audience and Stan Kenton.  They called Bill back to the stage 4 times for applause.


Bill Soberanes was one of the kindest and most respected men I have ever had the privilege of knowing.  He was a true gentleman and in the 41 years we were friends and partners I never heard him swear.  I never experienced him making a negative or unkind statement about any human being.

We will all miss you Bill.  The World is a better place because of you. Thank you for your leadership in our sport.

On behalf of the World Armwrestling Community.


Dave Devoto



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